The Falling Away

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The Falling Away

Post  A Bible Student on Tue Jan 06, 2015 12:29 am

From the Facebook account of Speak To Me, Father by Gerald Wrenn.  The only editing I've done is in formatting.

The Falling Away Comes First: What is it?

The words, “falling away”, are the Greek noun, apostasia, from “apo” and “stasia”. “Apo” means “away from” and “stasia” means, “to stand”. The word occurs in II Thessalonians 2:3 and Acts 21:21.

II Thessalonians 2:3 AV
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Apostasia is translated as “a falling away” here. To determine what this is, the Word of God will have to supply us with the answer. First, we will consider the verse where the words are used. Within the verse, we will study the biblical usage of the word apostasia. Next, we will consider the use of the article, he, and its bearing on the subject.

The verse has to agree with the context without any contradiction if we are to rightly divide the Word of God.

Every scripture regarding the identical subject has to agree if we are to have the word of truth.

The biblical definition of a word is determined by how it is used in the Scriptures, not by its secular usage. The word apostasia only appears twice in the New Testament, here in II Thessalonians 2:3 and in Acts 21:21.

Acts 21:21 AV
And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
Apostasia is translated “forsake” here in the Authorized Version. James and the elders in Jerusalem accused the apostle Paul of teaching the Jews to “forsake” Moses’ teachings, such as circumcision and other customs that they held. This was a departure from their teachings.

Once it is translated “forsake” and once “falling away”. If we consider the uses of the verb we will gain a better understanding of its meaning since the noun is derived from the verb.

The noun, apostasia, comes from the verb, aphisteemi. Aphisteemi comes from apo “away from” and histemi “to stand”. It appears 15 times in the New Testament. Although apostasia and aphisteemi do not look alike, they come from the same root. They are merely different forms of the same root.

Listed below are the fifteen times that aphisteemi appears in the New Testament.

Luke 2:37 AV
And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
Luke 4:13 AV
And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.
Luke 8:13 AV
They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
Luke 13:27 AV
But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
Acts 5:37 AV
After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
Acts 5:38 AV
And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
Acts 12:10 AV
When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
Acts 15:38 AV
But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.
Acts 19:9 AV
But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.
Acts 22:29 AV
Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.
II Corinthians 12:8 AV
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
I Timothy 4:1 AV
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
I Timothy 6:5 AV
Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
II Timothy 2:19 AV
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
Hebrews 3:12 AV
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
Aphisteemi is translated “depart”, “departing” or “departed” eleven of the fifteen times it is used. Once it is translated “withdraw”, once “refrain”, once “fall away” and once “drew away”.

In these verses, the clear sense of the word is that of “departing” whether it is physically departing or spiritually departing. The departing may be either positive or negative.

We must determine the nature of the particular departure from the information given in the verse and its context.

Apostasia and aphisteemi both convey the sense of departing. It is a standing away from, a drawing out from among or a separation away from. It is a departure.

The English versions prior to the Authorized or King James Version translated apostasia in II Thessalonians 2:3 as, “a departing”.

The King James or Authorized Version was the first to translate apostasia as “falling away”. Jerome’s Latin translation of the Vulgate around 400 A.D, translated the Greek apostasia as the Latin discessio, meaning “departure”. The Tyndale Bible of 1534, the Geneva Bible and the Cranmer Bible, first published in 1537, translated apostasia as “a departing”. These versions precede the King James Bible printed in 1611.

Kenneth Wuest, author of, The Expanded Translation of the Greek New Testament, comments in his preface to II Thessalonians:
If apostasia and aphisteemi meant what our word ‘apostasy’ and ‘apostatize’ mean, why did Paul when using aphisteemi in I Timothy 4:1 feel the need of adding the qualifying phrase, ‘from the faith’ to complete the meaning of aphisteemi in that instance of its use? The word apostasia, therefore, in its original and pure meaning, unadulterated by the addition of other ideas imposed upon it by the contexts in which it has been used, means a ‘departure.’
The Biblical definition of the word is “departure”.

THE USAGE OF THE GREEK ARTICLE

II Thessalonians 2:3 AV
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition,
The King James or Authorized Version reads, “a falling away”. The Greek texts read, he apostasia. "He" is the article “the”, so the expression should be translated as “the departure”.

The Greek does not need the article to make the noun definite as we use it in English. In the Greek a substantive is definite without the article.

The article originally came from the demonstrative pronoun (such as “this” or “that”), which calls attention with special emphasis to a designated object. Its function is to point out an object or to draw attention to it. “Its use with a word makes the word stand out distinctly. Whenever the Greek uses the article, it points out individual identity . . . it marks a specific object of thought”. It identifies singularity.

The Greek uses the article with infinitives, adjectives, adverbs, prepositional phrases, clauses or even with whole sentences. We do not have a corresponding English usage even remotely associated to this.

When the article appears in the Greek, it always signals us to some special significance.

We need to look at the matter from the Greek point of view, not the English if we are to discover the reason that the article is used.

The usage of the article draws our attention to the identity and special significance of this particular departure.

According to Dana and Mantey in, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, page 141, reference 147 (2):
The article may be used to point out an object, the identity of which is defined by some previous reference made to it in the context.
Wuest acknowledges this particular usage in his expanded translation. He says,
The word ‘previous’ is all-important here. The translators of the A. V. looked for the definition of the word in the subsequent context, whereas the Greek article points here to a previous context, namely, to the coming of the Lord Jesus into the air and the gathering together of the saints to Him and their consequent ascent to heaven.

Thus, instead of speaking of a departure of men from the true Faith, Paul is referring to the departure of the saints to heaven. The departure of the Church must occur before the day of the Lord sets in and the identity of the man of lawlessness is revealed.
His translation of the Greek reads:

II Thessalonians 2:3 Wuest’s Expanded Translation of the Greek New Testament
Do not begin to allow anyone to lead you astray in any way, because that day shall not come except the aforementioned departure [of the Church to heaven] comes first and the man of lawlessness is disclosed [in his true identity], the son of perdition.
Wuest comments:
The fatal mistake the translators made was in failing to take into consideration the definite article before the word apostasia which appears in the Greek text of Eberhard Nestle, in that of his son, Erwin Nestle, and in that of Westcott and Hort.

A.T. Robertson in his monumental work, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, asserts that the translators of the A. V., under the influence of the Vulgate, dealt with the Greek article in a loose and inaccurate way (p. 756). It is vital to look at the matter in hand from the Greek angle and find a reason for the use of the article in any given instance. (Wuest 1994)
Let’s read the context.

II Thessalonians 2:1-4 Wuest
Now, I am requesting you, brethren, with regard to the coming and personal presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, even our being assembled together to Him, not soon to become unsettled, the source of this unsettled state being your minds, neither be thrown into confusion, either by a spirit, or through a word as from us or through a letter falsely alleged to be written by us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come and is now present. Do not begin to allow anyone to lead you astray in any way, because that day shall not come except the aforementioned departure comes first and the man of the lawlessness is disclosed, the son of perdition, he who sets himself in opposition to and exalts himself above everyone and everything that is called a god or that is an object of worship, so that he seats himself in the inner sanctuary of God, proclaiming himself to be deity.
“The departure” previously mentioned in the context is, “the coming and personal presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, even our being assembled together [up to] Him”. In light of this he instructed the saints not to be disturbed by those who were saying that the Day of the Lord had set in because it cannot occur until after the Church departs with their lord into the heavenlies.

The Aramaic translation agrees with the Greek.

II Thessalonians 2:3 Aramaic-English Interlinear New Testament
Do not let anyone deceive you in any way, because [it will not come] except an escape should come first and the man of sin be revealed, the son of destruction,

The context of II Thessalonians 2:1-3 assures the saints that they will not go through the judgment of the ungodly when it occurs in the Day of the Lord. The apostle Paul instructed the saints not to be disturbed, nor deceived by anyone who said that the Day of the Lord was then present.

The saints of the church, which is the body of Christ, will escape the coming judgment of the Day of the Lord. Their escape or departure will be the closing event to the Administration of the Grace of God.

What comfort would it be to know that the church’s apostasy from God would come before the Day of the Lord? This is especially puzzling when the book of Revelation reveals that 144,000 Israelites will be sealed before the judgments begin to unfold; they will be faithful as well as a great multitude of Gentiles who will be willing to give their lives instead of take the mark of the beast.

It is comforting to know that the Lord will return for the church of the grace of God and remove it from the earth before the events concerning the Day of the Lord unfold.

The revelation of the lord’s coming for his church is revealed in I Thessalonians 4.

I Thessalonians 4:15-17 AV
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
The Lord will descend from the heavenlies and gather the members of his body together (both the living and those who have died) to meet him in the air and then depart with him into the heavenlies.

Both the dead in Christ and the living of the church will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and return with him into the heavenlies.

This is the “word of the Lord” and he gave this revelation for our comfort.
The Church will escape the judgment of the Lord’s Day, which will begin to unfold on the earth after their departure.

A Bible Student

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